Cape Town – The Zimbabwean government has introduced a bill that seeks to bar doctors and nurses from embarking on a strike that lasts longer than three days, reports say.
The decision came after nurses and doctors in the southern African country embarked on multiple strikes over the years, demanding better working conditions and pay.
Despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s promises to improve the health sector, life has remained difficult for the health workers.
“Under the proposed Health Service Amendment Bill published on 23 July, members of the health industry will be barred from participating in strikes that last longer than three days, or more than 72 hours in a two-week period.
“Healthcare workers will also be obligated during any collective job action, “to provide the skill, expertise, care and service to patients in a medical emergency or needing critical or intensive care,” a Bloomberg report said, quoting the bill.
The proposed new law also stipulates that a notice of strike must be given in writing, 48 hours prior to the start of the industrial action.
According to media reports, thousands of doctors and nurses went on strike in 2018 to demand better pay and working conditions.
In 2019, senior doctors once again laid down their tools and went on strike over the same issues.
To date, better pay and working conditions for doctors and nurses still remained unresolved.
A Sowetan Live report quoted government sources as saying the new amendments sought to align health workers under “essential services” providers such as the police and army who cannot go on strike.
The report said that if a representative of workers pushed for industrial action and was found guilty of any wrongdoing they could be jailed for up to three years.
“Any individual who is a member of the governing body of any trade union or representative body of members of the health service which incites or organises any job collective action contrary to subsection 2(b) or (c) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 10 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” the report quoted the bill as saying.
Picture: Getty Images